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Best Kayak for the Money (10 Awesome Kayaks Reviewed)

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T - best kayak for the money

An excellent kayak isn’t merely the one that has a lot of features to boast. As good as the kayak is, would you spend more money on it than it actually deserves? Probably not: you most likely want to get yourself the best kayak for the money.

If such a kayak is the thing that you are looking for now, then maybe we could help you.

For our today’s review, we have picked 10 great kayaks that we think offer interesting features for an appropriate price. Their prices and features vary widely, so you certainly will have a lot of options to consider.

So shall we begin?


Kayak comparison


Kayak Size (L x W) Weight Weight capacity Seats Price
Explorer K2 10.25’ x 36” 35 lbs. 400 lbs. 2 CHECK
Malibu 12’ x 34” 57 lbs. 375 – 425 lbs. 2 CHECK
AdvancedFrame 10’5” x 32” 36 lbs. 300 lbs. 1 CHECK
Sea Eagle SE370 Sport 12.5’ x 34” 32 lbs. 650 lbs. Up to 3 CHECK
Lotus 8’ x 29.5” 38 lbs. 250 lbs. 1 CHECK
Skipjack 120T 12’ x 33” 72 lbs. 500 lbs. Up to 3 CHECK
Challenger K1 9’ x 30” 27.2 lbs. 220 lbs. 1 CHECK
Sport Fisher Angler 100 10’ x 36” 60 lbs. 500 lbs. 2 CHECK
Sea Ghost 130 13’ x 33” 75 lbs. 550 lbs. 1 CHECK
Yellowfin 100 10’ x 32” 57 lbs. 375 lbs. 1 CHECK

Our pick of the best kayak for the money


Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T

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Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T earned our vote of the best kayak for the money. It is quite a pricey kayak, but it sure does have a lot to offer.

While this kayak is designed to be a fishing kayak, it is pretty suitable for more. Going from point A to B, recreational paddling, admiring the picturesque landscape – those are the things that are perfectly possible with this kayak.

But this doesn’t mean that the rest of the kayaks we reviewed aren’t worthy of your attention. Moreover, maybe one of them will be a much better pick for you than the Skipjack 120T!


Kayak reviews


Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Key features:

If you happen to be looking for a cheap and portable kayak, then Intex Explorer K2 would probably be the best kayak for the money for you.

The Explorer K2 kayak is, first of all, an inflatable kayak. When deflated, this kayak virtually takes up no space, which makes it an excellent choice if you don’t have that much room to spare.

The second big advantage of the K2 kayak is its cheapness, so if you are on a tight budget, you might want to consider this kayak.

The Explorer K2 kayak also comes with two seats that are strapped onto the kayak to ensure adequate back support, albeit you probably won’t get as much comfort as you would from a rigid kayak.

Remarkably, the K2 kayak is equipped with a skeg that improves its directional stability, so paddling in a straight line shouldn’t be a problem in this kayak.

Intex also kindly includes an air pump and two paddles with the K2. While the pump seems to be alright, be ready to replace the paddles with something better because they aren’t that good.

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Cons:

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Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Key features:

Ocean Kayak’s Malibu tandem recreational kayak is a good option of a kayak if you just want to tour from point A to point B and maybe also take some photos on the way. The length makes the Malibu fairly speedy, so traveling in it should be a breeze.

This kayak comes with two Comfort Plus seats by default with the option of adding one additional seat. Even if you use just two seats, you could use the three seating positions to your advantage to get the most comfort out of this kayak.

However, this kayak probably won’t be able to support three adult kayakers. Instead, Ocean Kayak themselves market this kayak as a two-plus-child kayak.

An interesting feature of this kayak is its stackable design: if you have 2 kayaks, you could stack them on one another to save up on some precious storage space.

As for the downsides, this kayak doesn’t have any dry storage compartments – a thing that is quite common in rigid kayaks – and there are no paddles included.

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ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Kayak

Key features:

Yet another inflatable kayak on our list, but this one is a whole another deal. The AdvancedFrame kayak is a much more advanced and expensive kayak than the Intex K2 we reviewed in the beginning.

Possibly the most important feature of this kayak is its puncture-resistant multi-layer hull material. It is complemented by an aluminum rib frame, which is the thing that earns the kayak its hybrid nature.

On the other hand, all those fancy hull materials may somewhat worsen the portability of this kayak. Still, it would be a much more portable and compact than regular rigid kayaks.

The AdvancedFrame kayak also has two separate air chambers for increased safety. Even if one of them gets punctured, you will still be able to stay afloat.

The sit-in design of this kayak should also be noted. It protects the kayaker from getting wet, so the AdvancedFrame kayak would be a better choice for cold weather and cool water.

Even though this kayak is quite pricey, it doesn’t come with an air pump or a paddle, so you will need to buy them separately. Keep that in mind.

And besides, because the weight capacity of this kayak is just 300 pounds, you should avoid it if you are a big kayaker.

We have also examined the 2-seater version of this kayak on our reviews of best lake kayaks. You could check it out if you’d prefer a tandem AdvancedFrame kayak.

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Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sport Kayak

Key features:

We reviewed the fishing version of the Sea Eagle SE370 on our reviews of best kayaks for fishing. The SE370 was a good fishing kayak, but we think that it performs better as a recreational or whitewater kayak.

Sea Eagle SE370 is an incredibly durable inflatable kayak, albeit it probably isn’t as sturdy as the AdvancedFrame kayak we have just reviewed.

The SE370 is suitable for Class III whitewater, which basically means that it can track well in water bodies with moderate waves. On one hand, that’s possible thanks to the 2 bottom skegs of the kayak and on the other thanks to its durable materials.

Speaking of durability, this kayak boasts 650 pounds of maximum weight capacity, which is the highest weight capacity among the kayaks we examined.

Thanks to the solid weight capacity, this kayak is able to support three kayakers. Alternatively, you could put a lot of gear in this kayak.

Sea Eagle included quite a lot of stuff with this kayak: two paddles, two inflatable seats, a foot pump, and a carry bag. The seats aren’t that comfortable though, but still, given the not so steep price, this kayak could be the best kayak to buy for your needs.

In the end, this kayak is going to be the best kayak for the money for you if you want a sturdy unit.

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Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak

Key features:

Lifetime’s Lotus sit-on-top kayak is a great option if you are looking for a compact kayak. In fact, this is the smallest kayak on our reviews!

Due to the weight capacity of this kayak, you can’t really put a lot of gear in it. Nor you can paddle in it if you are a big kayaker. However, it could be an excellent choice for recreational paddling.

The seat of this kayak is quite remarkable: many people praise it for the good back support, even though the seat has no padding. But because it has no padding, this kayak probably won’t be very appropriate for long kayaking trips.

Nonetheless, we think that there will be quite a few people out there for whom this product is going to be that best kayak for the money!

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Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T

Key features:

If you are looking for a fishing kayak, then Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T could be an excellent choice for you. This kayak isn’t the most versatile fishing kayak on the market, but it still has a lot of features to boast.

The Skipjack 120T fishing kayak is quite pricey, but it offers an excellent build quality and plenty of customization capability. This kayak comes with two kayak seats and two paddles, but it can be expanded up to three seats.

Vibe Kayaks includes two flush fishing rod holders with this kayak.  If that isn’t quite enough for you, the four mounting points for RAM, Scotty, or Railblaza rod holders could allow you to get more out of this kayak.

The thing that catches the eye in this kayak the most is its two sealed storage compartments that can be used to house your water-sensitive items. Most of the other kayaks we examined don’t have this feature.

The Skipjack 120T kayak is quite a heavy kayak though, so it isn’t very portable. This kayak is also quite big, so you would need to free up some to store it.

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Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Key features:

The Challenger K1 kayak is pretty much the one-seat version of the Intex K2 kayak we reviewed in the very beginning. However, the number of seats isn’t the only thing that is different in this kayak.

The Challenger K1 kayak is the lightest kayak on the reviews, weighing just 27.2 pounds. Besides, it is much more compact than the K2, so it is an overall better choice if you would want to have storage efficiency rather than two seats.

The K1 kayak also has a bungee net in the front of the hull. This net would allow you to safely store your backpack in the kayak, which is a thing that the K2 can’t do.

Those features are certainly good, but there is one major downside: this kayak supports weights no more than 220 pounds. The K1 kayak would thereby be suitable for skinny kayakers only.

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Lifetime Sport Fisher Angler 100 Kayak

Key features:

The Sport Fisher Angler 100 kayak is another good option of a fishing kayak. This fishing kayak differs quite a bit from the Skipjack 120T fishing kayak we reviewed a bit earlier.

First of all, this kayak is noticeably shorter than the 120T, measuring 10 feet long against the 12 feet of the 120T. This could make this kayak a better choice if you are worried about storage efficiency.

On the other hand, the Sport Fisher Angler 100 kayak is a much wider kayak. In fact, along with the Intex K2 kayak we examined in the beginning, this kayak is the widest one on the reviews.

This extra width means that the kayak will be much more stable on the water. That’s definitely a huge plus for any kayak, but even more so for a fishing kayak since you will need to have a stable ground to fight the fish.

Lifetime Sport Fisher Angler 100 kayak comes with 3 flush-mount rod holders, as well as with a dry storage compartment to keep your water-sensitive items safe.

Aside from that, Lifetime includes two seats and two paddles with this kayak. If you wish, you could expand it to three seats.

Now, onto the downsides. This kayak is quite slow on the water, which is, to be fair, quite expectable: more stable kayaks tend to be much slower. Besides, you will probably get wet in this kayak since its sides are really low and don’t provide that much protection.

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Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak

Key features:

If you are looking for an excellent fishing kayak, then Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 angler kayak might be the right option for you. This kayak has much more to offer than the other two fishing kayaks we reviewed, but it also costs accordingly.

The first advantage of the Sea Ghost 130 kayak is the amount of storage space it has. It has got a large sealed front compartment, a smaller rear hatch, as well as a bungeed rear well for your backpack.

Add to this the 550-pound weight capacity, and you get a fishing kayak that can carry a lot of gear.

By default, the Sea Ghost 130 comes with 2 flush-mount fishing rod holders. It also has 4 integrated gear tracks for you to install additional rods, fish finders, or whatnot.

Because this kayak is long, it tracks on the water with a good speed. And thanks to the integrated foot-operated rudder system, you should be able to maneuver this kayak pretty easily.

When it comes to stability, this kayak probably won’t be as stable as the Lifetime Sport Fisher Angler 100 we reviewed right before this kayak: the Sea Ghost 130 is narrower. However, the comfort of this kayak is just great thanks to its supportive dual-position Vibe Hero seat.

Overall, if you have the budget and need a great fishing kayak, this model might be the best kayak for the money for you.

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Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100

Key features:

The Yellowfin 100 kayak is pretty much a cheaper version of the Sea Ghost 130 kayak. The Yellowfin kayak basically has the same features, but it has slightly less to offer.

Let’s begin with the differences. This kayak is much shorter, first of all, and thus slower. Secondly, this kayak has less storage space, even though it still has plenty of room in it. And lastly, it comes with 4 fishing rod holders instead of 2, which is quite surprising since this is the cheaper kayak.

As for the rest of the features, the Yellowfin 100 kayak is pretty much identical to the Sea Ghost 130 kayak. It has got the same comfy Vibe Hero seat, as well as an integrated rudder system for increased maneuverability.

This fishing kayak also has two sealed storage compartments and a bungeed well, but their layout is a bit different: both the sealed compartments are in the front.

As for the price, the Yellowfin 100 kayak is quite expensive, though not as expensive as the Sea Ghost 130 kayak. Still, you need to have the budget to afford this thing.

In spite of its price, the features of this kayak give it the potential to become the best kayak for the money for probably a very good number of people!

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Final thoughts


So what’s next? Well, if you don’t really know how to pick the right kayak for your needs, we would advise you to have a look at our kayak buying guide.

After you know what things you need to be looking for in a kayak, you should be able to find that best kayak for the money. Don’t rush buying a kayak though: you better be sure that you are getting the right kayak for your needs.

By the way, if you are also looking for a kayak paddle, check out our paddle buying guide and the review of 6 cheap paddles. And for a kayak carrier, check out our review of best kayak racks.

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